Hello! You may not remember me, but I’m Ophelia. From Ophelia’s Kitchen. Anyway, it’s nice to see you. (Sigh). I hope you have a catering order – preferably a wedding! Something that will keep me busy for a few weeks! It’s so quiet at the moment here in Galilee. (She runs her hand over the stone). We’re doing it a bit tough just now. At least we have a supportive community, although I was beginning to think we were all going to fall apart at the seams for awhile.
Sorry! You’re new here. You probably don’t even know what’s been going on!
Galilee has been – is - in the grip of a major crisis. There are no fish in the lake and there’s been an un-seasonal cold snap and most the farmers are not going to get the grain yields they expected. It’s getting pretty desperate – and desperate fishermen or farmers don’t hire caterers! So – my business is suffering too! Everyone was getting pretty gloomy – some were even hinting at sending their little children to the big cities to look for work! Can you imagine?
I’m friends with the disciples of the Master – they’ve been visiting their old stomping grounds at the lake and Peter says that pretty well all the fishermen there are really struggling to make ends meet.
The Master helps enormously. He is such a comfort to these people. It’s like when they listen to him, they’ve been fed – they go away with such a look of contentment and wonder on their faces. What he says is true – He really IS the bread of life! Still it’s hard even for the Master to get around to everybody! We ordinary folk do our best to get his message about, but it’s not easy with the Pharisee’s breathing down our necks watching every move we make! Crumbs! So what if you have to peel a few onions for a neighbour on the Sabbath for goodness sake!
Anyway, that’s why I have this stone!
Ah! This stone! What joy is in this stone! It reminds me of all that’s good and beautiful about family, about neighbours, about The Father!
This stone makes miracles! Well, technically it wasn’t really the stone, we all sort of knew that. But the miracle was the way this stone was used. (pause). Let me explain.
The other day we had a traveler to this area. I think he was from Rome or somewhere like that. Anyhow, he was pretty weary and he came into the village to get some food. Well, nobody would offer him anything. We all had excuses, even me, I ashamed to say. Some said they only had enough to feed their own families, some said they wouldn’t be able to pay their tithes or the temple-tax if they gave away their food. I even said I couldn’t provide him with a meal because it might set a precedent and I’d have to give away food to everyone! I can’t tell you how guilty I felt!
Anyway this traveler, well he just smiled this huge white smile and then pulled this stone out of his saddlebag. “Ladies and Gentlemen” he says. “You are very lucky that I came to your town. I have in my hands a special stone, which will help you through these tough times. With this stone I will make you all a soup”. That really got our attention. Soup from a stone. As if. Word got around pretty quick and it wasn’t long before the whole village came out to see what was going on.
So there we all were as skeptical as Tax Collectors on temple tax day! Then he says in a voice like molten chocolate, “the wonder of stone soup is that it not only feeds hungry people but it helps to bring people together.”
Then he asked for a big cooking pot. I loaned him the biggest one I have. He reckoned it would only be just big enough. He made a fire from some firewood some kids had scrounged for him, put this stone into the pot and then he filled it up about half way with water. He gets the water boiling furiously and then he dips a ladle in, has a sip and says, “This stone soup is excellent. But, I think it could be improved with a few carrots, and maybe an onion or two.”
I don't know whether it was the way he said it, or the look on his face, but a few minutes later a small boy pushed his way through the crowd and held out his hand. In it was an onion. The stranger thanked the boy very solemnly, and added the onion to the pot. Then a young girl timidly tugs on his cloak, and she holds out a carrot. The stranger thanks her, too, for her precious gift, and adds it to the pot.
Well the next thing you know, people were chipping in with all sorts of bits and pieces that they managed to find at home. There were kids bringing him salt and pepper, old men with onions, young girls with barley, one mum and her child even gave up two whole cabbages! I chipped in with some mutton I’d been saving. It was just amazing!
This traveler was soon very busy cutting and slicing and throwing the meat and vegies into the pot, and do you know, he was right! That huge pot of mine could barely hold it all. Incredible!
We feasted that night on the most wonderful meal of my life! Oh! And how we danced afterwards. We had so much fun! We were together as a community again – instead of being frightened, hungry paupers all tucked up in our own beds with our own doom, gloom and loneliness!
Somehow, through a miracle second only to the miracles of the Master, this dark stranger gave us something we thought was dead and gone – he not only filled our tummies and gave us back each to other, he gave us hope!
So that’s why I’ve kept this stone. If things get gloomy and altogether too sad around here, I’m going to get everyone into this kitchen and make Stone soup again.
Well, that’s the story. I have to go and inventory my pantry now. Hey! You know! I just might make stone soup for the Master and the Disciples tomorrow night! I think he’d like that!
© Michelle Pitman 1999, all rights reserved
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